2020 | Police & Fire

Police say suspect was fatally shot at his home after confrontation with officer

Man illegally owned three rifles, two handguns, authorities said

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Duncan Lemp

Photo provided by Duncan Lemp's family

This story was updated at 1:35 p.m. on March 16, 2020, to clarify a quote from Rene Sandler about the timing of events connected to the shooting. Additionally, a statement from the Lemp family was incorrectly attributed to Sandler.

A suspect fatally shot by a Montgomery County police officer at his Potomac home early Thursday morning confronted officers first, police said.

The male officer, who has not been identified, shot Duncan Socrates Lemp, 21, at his home in the 12200 block of St. James Road. Police said officers tried to serve a “high-risk” search warrant related to firearms offenses around 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

However, an attorney representing the family has alleged that police did not act appropriately in their use of force while executing a search warrant.

“We are undertaking a very intense investigation to determine whether or not there are any claims available to the family due to the intrusion and killing of their loved one in his home. The family was sleeping at the time of the intrusion, and quite vulnerable,” said Rene Sandler, an attorney representing the family.

Police said Friday afternoon that the officer shot Lemp after he “confronted” the officers, but gave no additional details about what happened. Police declined to comment beyond a press release.

Police said in Friday’s press release that they recovered three rifles and two handguns from the scene and released photos of the weapons. Lemp was prohibited from owning firearms, police said.

The officer was placed on paid administrative leave, which is the department’s policy for officers who use deadly force.

Police said Friday that the shooting remains under investigation.

When the department finishes its investigation, the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office will review the shooting as part of a reciprocal agreement with Montgomery County. The agreement mandates that one county’s state’s attorney’s office review any officer-involved shooting in the other county if there is an injury or death.

Police have given little information about why they issued a search warrant for Lemp.

Sandler told Bethesda Beat Friday that a summary of the search warrant states that Lemp was being investigated for alleged possession of an assault weapon and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

Sandler said she has “no knowledge” of whether Lemp would have been charged with a crime.

“We are limited in understanding the scope and full basis of that warrant, because we only have limited information,” she said.

Sandler, who has been in touch with the family, said Lemp, his parents, his brother and his girlfriend were all in the home and sleeping around the time of the shooting.

Lemp’s girlfriend, she said, woke up after police fired shots at the home and a window shattered.

”Police later entered the home. At some point during the execution of the warrant, Lemp was shot and killed,” according to Lemp’s girlfriend, Sandler said.

The Lemp family wrote in a statement that the warrant doesn’t mention “any imminent threat to law enforcement or the community” and that the police officer’s conduct during the shooting has been traumatic for the family.

“Any attempt by the police to shift responsibility onto Duncan or his family who were sleeping when the police fired shots into their home is not supported by the facts,” the family’s statement said.

Lemp’s name, along with a screen name of Yungquant, appears on a website called “My Militia, An American Patriot Network” in a post from September 2019 that expresses interest in training with a unit. Police have declined to comment on whether Lemp had ties to the militia group.

Sandler said Friday morning that Lemp was not involved with the group.

“Any suggestion that Duncan was affiliated with an organization that was militia-based or anti-America is absolutely false,” she said.

Sandler said the family hasn’t decided whether they want to pursue legal action.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdasmagazine.com